PINEHURST — One of the best moments of Brittany Creese’s young life took place as she walked into a department store a few weeks ago and realized that she no longer had to shop for plus sizes.
Another occurred when she crossed the finish line for the Warrior Dash, the obstacle course 5K she ran in Huntersville back in May. She anticipates yet another at the conclusion of the Outer Banks half-marathon she has planned for November.
“I’m not ready for a marathon, but I’m ready for a half,” she said.
Until just a few months ago, shopping for pretty clothes and running half-marathons had taken a back seat to Creese’s weight-related high blood pressure and diabetes. That was before the 25-year-old emergency department nurse had gastric sleeve weight-loss surgery at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.
Creese’s life is very different now. She came off her diabetes medicine the day of her surgery, her blood pressure is now down to a healthy 110/60 and, by Aug. 20, six months after her surgery, she weighed 79 pounds less than she did before.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to have the surgery again — at all,” she said.
Gastric sleeve is a bariatric or surgical weight-loss procedure that Creese’s surgeon, Raymond Washington, M.D., predicts will eventually surpass gastric bypass as the “gold standard” of weight-loss surgeries.
“Over the past five years, gastric bypass and Lap-Band surgeries have gotten most of the attention in the media,” Dr. Washington said. “But data have shown great results comparable or better with sleeve surgery with less concern about the nutritional deficits and long-term complications of the other surgeries.”
With gastric sleeve surgery, much of the stomach is removed, which reduces it to about 20 percent of its original size. The open edges of the remaining tissue are then attached to form a banana-shaped “sleeve” that limits the amount of food the patient can eat and helps the patient feel full sooner.
Since there is no rerouting of the small intestine to bypass the natural stomach outlet, there is less chance of the nutritional complications associated with the more traditional surgery.
Creese decided on gastric sleeve surgery after discussing the pros and cons of all three procedures done at Moore Regional Hospital — Lap-Band as well as gastric bypass and gastric sleeve — with both Dr. Washington and his colleague, David Grantham, M.D., of the FirstHealth Bariatric Center.
She was especially interested to learn that sleeve surgery eliminates the part of the stomach that produces grhelin, the hormone that controls hunger, appetite and nutrition. As someone who had tried many of the traditional weight-loss measures – including exercise under the direction of a personal trainer, she felt the sleeve procedure was her best option.
A gynecological diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, which made weight loss even more difficult, was another important factor in her decision to have the surgery.
“We were all in agreement that the sleeve would really be best for me,” she said.
Creese’s surgery, not to mention its preparation and aftermath, couldn’t have gone better. She believes her pre-surgery preparation, which included behavioral and nutritional counseling, helped prepare her for what lay ahead and that the schedule of post-surgical follow-ups, which began two weeks after her surgery, will help her maintain her new status.
“You know exactly what you’re getting into,” she said. “You are prepared in every way.”
Creese did so well, in fact, that she actually pushed her return to work and favorite activities more dramatically than Dr. Washington preferred. He was surprised to find her back at work in Moore Regional’s Emergency Department much earlier than expected. But Creese was feeling well, minus the back pain that had affected her physical activities, and ready to get on with her life – her job, her crafting and card-making, and the progress she’s making toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Even her gynecological problems have stabilized, offering her a better opportunity for something else she hopes will be in her future.
“I want to have kids,” she said, “and now I have a better chance with the weight loss.”